Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang on Thursday assured that China would persuade Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis through bilateral discussions agreeing that the return of the forcibly displaced people to their homeland was a solution to the problem.
Li Keqiang came up with the assurance at a bilateral meeting with Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina at the Great Hall of the People in the capital of China.
‘The Chinese premier said they’ll try so that the two countries (Bangladesh and Myanmar) could find a solution to this problem. And China will persuade Myanmar in this regard,’ said foreign secretary Md Shahidul Haque while briefing reporters after the bilateral talks.
Appreciating Sheikh Hasina for her humanitarian response, Li Keqiang said China can understand that it is a big challenge for Bangladesh.
The Chinese premier said they think the crisis would have to be solved through bilateral channels. China also helped solve the problem in the past as both Bangladesh and Myanmar are friends of China. ‘So, the two countries need to solve the problem sitting in dialogues and find out a solution,’ he added.
Earlier at the bilateral talks, Sheikh Hasina said peace and stability was very much essential for development, but the displacement of Rohingyas from their homes in Myanmar affects the peace and stability in the region.
Mentioning that the Rohingya crisis would worsen with the passage of time, she said it needed to be resolved quickly. ‘The return of the Rohingyas to their homeland is the solution to the crisis.’
Hasina said Bangladesh engaged in bilateral arrangements and made all sorts of efforts for the repatriation of Rohingyas but the displaced people do not want to return to Myanmar as they were afraid of going back.
In this context, she said China could play the role in creating a congenial environment in Myanmar for ensuing safety, dignity and citizenship of the displaced Rohingyas as well as their access to their lands and property in Myanmar with a view to removing their fear.
Talking about the economy and trade issue, the Chinese premier said the volume of trade between China and Bangladesh witnessed 16 per cent growth in the last year.
In response, Hasina stressed the need for addressing the trade imbalance between the two countries as the trade growth is in favour of China. ‘So, China should make investment in Bangladesh, develop factories and industries with the buyback guarantee,’ said the Bangladesh PM.
Mentioning that Bangladesh was setting up 100 special economic zones, she urged China to come up with investment in those.
In this context, Li Keqiang said they wanted balanced trade relations and assured of working on reducing the trade imbalance.
Noting that 97 per cent Bangladeshi products now enjoyed duty-free access to Chinese market, the Chinese premier said they would try to exempt duties from the rest of goods. ‘China is closely monitoring the outcomes of the FTA feasibility study,’ he added.
About the implementation of projects, Hasina said during the Chinese president’s visit to Bangladesh in 2016, Dhaka signed a number of agreements and MoUs with Beijing to implement projects in Bangladesh.
She put emphasis on expediting the implementation process of the projects.
Hasina urged China to ease the terms and conditions of loan agreements and take necessary measures for timely disbursement of fund for implementation of the projects.
In this regard, her Chinese counterpart said China would consider the matter.
Hasina sought Chinese assistance for implementing the Delta Plan 2100 and setting up a Climate Adaptation Centre and mobilising resources in implementation of Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration project.
She also urged China to expedite implementation process of Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar high-speed train service.
About the visa issue, Hasina said Bangladesh provided preferential visas to Chinese nationals under the umbrella of ‘on arrival visa’ arrangements. But similar treatment was not offered for Bangladeshi nationals travelling to China.
She hoped that China would ease the visa process for Bangladesh passport holders, students and businessmen in particular.
About BCIM economic corridor, the two prime ministers highlighted its importance and potentials to connect markets of the region and said both the countries agreed for quick implementation of the corridor.
The foreign secretary said the Chinese premier termed Bangladesh as a partner of China in South Asia. ‘We value our relationship with Bangladesh and would like to take it to a higher level ... we’ve a strategic partnership and we hope that it’ll be deepened and strengthened further,’ Li Keqiang said.
The Chinese premier hoped that Bangladesh would keep up its development spree and China would continue to support Bangladesh in this regard.
Hasina said her government gave priority to peace, stability and development for the welfare of people.
Bangladesh ambassador to China Md Fazlul Karim and PM’s speech writer Md Nazrul Islam were present at the briefing.
Chairperson of National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopment Disorders Saima Wazed Hossain, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, PM’s private industry and investment adviser Salman F Rahman, state minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam and chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the foreign affairs ministry Muhammad Faruk Khan were, among others, on the Bangladesh side during the bilateral talks.
Hasina joined a banquet hosted by her Chinese counterpart at the Great Hall of the People after the bilateral meeting.
Earlier on her arrival at the Great Hall of the People around 10:45am, Sheikh Hasina was accorded a state reception.
The Chinese premier welcomed the Bangladesh prime minister when she reached the Great Hall of the People and both them introduced delegation members to each other.
Later, the Bangladesh prime minister was given a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent drawn from the three services. Accompanied by the Chinese premier, Sheikh Hasina took salute from a decorated dais and later inspected the guards.
National anthems of the two countries were played and gun salutes were also given on the occasion.
PM’s speechwriter Md Nazrul Islam was present at the briefing.
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